LAKE CITY, Fla. – It's been nearly a day and half since a Columbia County woman was last seen by her family and search crews were working into the night Thursday as they clung to hope that she would be found.
Sheriff's deputies said 61-year-old Mary Robertson suffers from dementia. She managed to slip away from her husband in her home Wednesday morning and now the Sheriff's Department and other agencies along with members of her community are desperately searching for her.
Robertson, who requires medication and is considered endangered, was last seen in the area of SW Barwick Terrace and SW Parker Lane in Lake City. She was wearing a blue shirt, denim pants and dark-blue flat shoes and is described as being 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing 96 pounds. She has blue eyes and short dirty blond hair with a touch of gray.
The search began at 2 p.m. Wednesday and was suspended about midnight, but resumed at daybreak Thursday.
Trying to cover as much ground as possible in Robertson's Lake City neighborhood, search crews on ATVs and on foot combed the entire neighborhood Thursday. They're going door to door, even searching underneath mobile homes.
CCSO search crews were also using bloodhounds and airplanes with heat-seeking technology, and the FWC was searching the waters around the area.
More than 100 community members helped in the second day of the search. Dozens of local volunteers teamed up with police to comb the woods and county streets. Airplanes with heat-seeking technology scanned a 3-mile perimeter from overhead, knowing that each hour it becomes more critical to find her.
Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter said Robertson slipped away from her mobile home, while her husband was on the computer in another room. The family searched for her for hours themselves, but realized that Robertson might be in danger without food, water or her medications.
"We're not sure if she walked off and someone picked her up," Hunter said. "We are not sure exactly what has happened."
Locals said they jumped into action, realizing every extra hand helps.
"It's the right thing to do," volunteer searcher Ashley Becker said. "If it were your or my family, would you want them to find her? Of course you would. It's the right thing to do."
A staging area was set up for civilian volunteers at the fire station at Pinemount Road and SW Birley Avenue in Lake City. Volunteers are asked to report to Sgt. Rick Damon at the fire station for briefing.
Columbia County Sheriff Murray Smith said the sheriff will determine when they will suspend the search but for now-- they remain optimistic.
"He told me today that he still has hope that everything is going to turn out okay. We have to cling to that, you just have to cling to help. There are so many thoughts and prayers coming out to this family and for this woman. We're going to continue this as long as there's any chance that we can come out with a positive outcome," Murray said.
Smith said they will not be going into the woods Thursday night, but they will start that back over tomorrow morning at 8 a.m..
Anyone with information on Robertson's whereabouts is asked to call deputies at 386-719-2005.